What's the hottest dining trend around? Exclusive, fixed-price, haute cuisine offered in an intimate setting on a limited basis. Impossible to find in this area?
Not really. Savvy local diners are feeding this movement, seeking eating experiences that transform an evening out into a evening adventure.
Roundz Gourmet Market in Gambrills has been ahead of this gastronomic wave for a year now with Roundz After Dark, served once a month since last January. As Roundz owner, Chef Zachary Pope, marks the thirteenth installment of this popular dinner he reflects on how the demand has grown.
"I had heard about these types of dinners offered in bigger cities and knew there was no reason we couldn't do the same here," said Pope, who is a Crofton resident. "We launched Roundz After Dark on January 2012 with no idea that it would take off like it has."
One night each month, the dining area of Roundz Gourmet Market is transformed into an intimate bistro where guests are seated in view of the exibition kitchen. They listen to soothing music performed by local musicians and watch as Chef Pope and staff prepare and plate six courses of a menu created especially for the night. Pope, named Best Chef in 2011 and 2012 by the Capital Gazette, often builds the menu around seasonal themes, featuring crops from local growers.
In honor of the one year anniversary, the next Roundz After Dark showcases some of Chef Pope's favorite foods. The menu for the Saturday, January 19:
Lobster Bisque with Lemon Whip and Crispy Vegetable Dumpling
Braised Oxtail Terrine with Potatoes
Lentil Garden Salad
Seared Swai Fish with Celeriac & Spicy Mango Sauce
Gingered Duck Breast with Carrot & Cabbage Slaw, Broccoli Puree & Chili Oil Drizzle
Warm Apple Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Phyllo and Tart Fruit Sauces
"I like to introduce either something new or a new way of doing something familiar at each Roundz After Dark," Pope said. "I talk to my guests before we begin and explain my thinking in crafting the menu. Guests ask questions and we have great conversations about food. It is a tremendous opportunity for education and the exchange of ideas."
It is also a chance for area musicians to gain exposure. Roundz After Dark has welcomed pianists, violinists, and classical guitarists to play at these events. Local pianist Jason Noren will perform in January.
Each Roundz After Dark dinner begins at 7:30 and reservations are required. The cost is $80 per person. Additional dinners are set for February 16, March 16, April 13 and May 11.
Roundz Gourmet Market is at 2299 Johns Hopkins Road, Gambrills, at the intersection of Rt. 3 and Johns Hopkins. Photos and information are at www.roundz.com. Reservations accepted at the Market or by calling 443.292.4631.